State, Federal Officials Meet to Discuss Children in Florida Nursing Homes

After meeting with federal officials, Liz Dudek, secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), said she is convinced that Florida is in compliance with the law in its placement of children with disabilities in nursing homes.

In September, the U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report alleging that children with complex and costly medical conditions had been placed by the state into nursing homes in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law does not strictly forbid the practice, but requires that in cases where the state provides medical aid to disabled children, those services should be provided in the child’s home or community whenever feasible.

The AHCA has battled the allegations since the release of the report. It said it has contacted parents of children placed in nursing homes to make sure they are aware of all options available to them in the care of their children. The possibility of a Department of Justice lawsuit, however, still looms.

A lawsuit brought by the families of the children is already pending in federal court. Platinffs’ attorneys are expected to file a motion soon to have their case certified as a class-action lawsuit—a move the state opposes.

The AHCA issued a press release saying it has contacted the families of all children in Florida nursing homes. It said 14 percent of those families initially expressed interest in their children being moved home and receiving medical care there instead of in nursing homes, but after learning more, all but one percent decided to keep their children where they are.

Call Joyce & Reyes at 1.888.771.1529 or visit more of

Tampa Pharmacist Among Three Convicted in Pill Mill Case

A federal jury in Ohio recently convicted a Tampa pharmacist and two other people of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The convictions come as part of a multi-state effort to crack down on “pill mills,” or drug dispensaries that illegally distribute huge amounts of addictive painkillers to drug dealers and abusers.

In a statement, U.S. attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the northern district of Ohio said that Vinesh Darji, 42, was also convicted on nine counts of dispensing hydrocodone unlawfully.

According to records at the Florida Department of Health, Darji is licensed as a pharmacist and as a pharmacist consultant.

The other two defendants convicted along with Darji are Audrey Barbara Rovedo, 64, a Jacksonville manager at Delta Health, and Dr. Terence Sasaki, 41, of New Jersey.

A total of 13 people have been convicted in connection with the drug distribution operation, including pharmacists, doctors, a call-center manager and others. Their cases stem from that of James Hazelwood, 42, of Georgia, who pled guilty to charges of illegally distributing millions of doses of prescription painkillers to drug users who did not have proper prescriptions.

The painkillers were sent to recipients in all 50 states and were worth millions of dollars.

According to court documents, Hazelwood’s organization was supplied painkillers by pharmacists and then distributed them to people who contacted the company through websites and call centers.

Call Joyce & Reyes at 1.888.771.1529 or visit more of

Energy Drink Cited in Reports of 13 Fatalities

In the past four years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of 13 fatalities that cited the possible involvement of 5-Hour Energy, an energy drink containing large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants.

Just weeks earlier, FDA officials acknowledged receiving five fatality reports that mentioned Monster Energy, another energy drink.

According to a New York Times report, some 90 FDA filings since 2009 have mentioned 5-Hour Energy, including at least 30 involving serious injuries such as convulsions, heart attacks and, in one case, a spontaneous abortion.

Products mentioned in FDA reports are not necessarily responsible for the incidents reported, and may not relate to the incident in any way.

In a statement, Living Essentials, the distributor of 5-Hour Energy based in Farmington Hills, Mich., said the product is safe and that the company was “unaware of any deaths proven to be caused by the consumption of 5-Hour Energy.”

Monster Beverage of Corona, Calif., producer of Monster Energy, has also issued repeated statements saying its products are safe and were not the cause of health problems in FDA reports.

According to a recent Consumer Reports article, a two-ounce bottle of 5-Hour Energy, referred to as a “shot,” contains about 215 milligrams of caffeine. By comparison, eight ounces of coffee can range from 100 to 150 milligrams depending on how it is made.

The FDA has stated it cannot justify changing regulations on energy products based on current evidence. Complicating matters is the fact that some caffeinated drinks, like Red Bull, are deemed “beverages” and covered by one set of rules, while others, like 5-Hour Energy, are designated as “dietary supplements,” and are covered by other rules.

In an interview with the New York Times, Daniel Fabricant, the FDA’s director of dietary supplement programs, said the agency was investigating fatality reports that cited 5-Hour Energy. He added that Living Essentials had submitted all 13 such reports to the FDA. A law that took effect in late 2008 requires dietary supplement producers to notify the agency when they are made aware of incidents of injury and death involving their products.

The company issued a statement saying that it takes “reports of any potential adverse event tied to our products very seriously,” and that it complied with all FDA reporting requirements.

In a 2011 report, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said that energy drinks were associated with at least 13,000 emergency room visits in 2009.

Robert Joyce is a Tampa personal injury attorney at Joyce & Reyes Law Firm. To learn more about the Tampa personal injury lawyer, visit or call 1.888.771.1529.